Running the bases, walking down the aisle

by Matt Bower

Simpson’s softball team is sporting more than cleats and gloves – they’re wearing diamonds. Four members of the Simpson softball team are engaged.

Juniors Kasey Keimig and Nikki Gruber and sophomores Halie Stalzer and Jacey Stephens will all be taking their vows in the near future.

“It’s a coincidence that it happened all at once, but at the same time it’s pretty neat,” Stalzer said.

Keimig agreed.

“It’s one more thing that brings us together as teammates,” Keimig said. “It adds another layer to the team.”

Coach Henry Christowski said the engagements are positive, but he hasn’t paid much attention to them.

“Our business is more what happens in the academic realm and on the softball field,” Christowski said. “We don’t really keep track of their personal lives or respond to it.”

The women haven’t found it hard to balance their engagement commitments with their softball duties.

“I do what I need to do when I’m here during the week and go home when I can,” Stalzer said. “My fianc����e comes to watch the games when he can get off work and I go home on my weekends off.”

Keimig’s fianc����e, senior James Hoffman, plays for the Simpson football team, so both know how to balance a relationship and a sport.

“It’s one of those situations where I go to his games and he goes to mine,” Keimig said. “He comes to as many games as he can.”

Christowski hasn’t noticed any negative effects from the engagements on the team.

“I imagine that the girls are very happy and that it’s something positive in their life,” Christowski said. “It’s not something they bring to the diamond or the field.”

Keimig said she and Hoffman aren’t planning to get married until after they’ve both graduated, but she that being engaged doesn’t affect her role on the team.

Gruber also said a committed relationship doesn’t affect the team.

“My fianc����e lives in Indianola and it’s not that different from when he was just my boyfriend,” Gruber said. “I get to see him every day and still go to practice; it’s not hard.”

Gruber did wonder if it was too soon to be engaged, but had no qualms when her fianc����e proposed.

“I didn’t hesitate when he asked me and I know it was the right decision for me,” Gruber said. “I’m very happy.”

Both Keimig and Stalzer have been in their respective relationships for five years and decided it was the right time to get engaged.

As for the high number of engaged softball players, Gruber has one explanation.

“I guess the softball girls are just the most irresistible on campus,” Gruber said with a laugh.

All kidding aside, Christowski said the girls exhibit good qualities as members of the team so it makes sense that they exhibit the same qualities in a meaningful relationship.

“We have a very nice-looking group, on and off the diamond,” Christowski said.